Ryder’s power-play goals lift Canadiens to win
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Nearing the end of a five-game road trip with back-to-back games, the Montreal Canadiens might have been ripe for a loss. Instead, they capped off their trip with a spirited performance.
Michael Ryder scored two power-play goals, and the Canadiens beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Sunday night.
David Desharnais, Brian Gionta and Francis Bouillon also scored, and P.K. Subban had three assists. Ryder has seven assists and two goals in seven games since being acquired from Dallas on Feb. 26.
Peter Budaj stopped 14 shots for the Canadiens, who won for the fourth time on their five-game trip and earned their ninth road victory of the season. The Canadiens swept the season series from the Panthers. They beat Tampa Bay 4-3 on Saturday night, scoring three goals in the final period.
“It was a sensational trip. Already, as I told the players before tonight’s game, it was a good trip and we had the chance to make it exceptional,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “What was impressive is the fact we played yesterday and they were fresh, but it was still us who dictated the game.”
Tomas Kopecky and Shawn Matthias scored for Florida, and Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves. The Panthers have lost six of seven and 13 of 16.
“We have to do a better job on preparing for all aspects of our game,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “Our starts haven’t been good enough. We’re playing one of the top teams in the league and they looked like it.”
Ryder’s second goal was scored late in the third period on a tip-in of a shot by Subban that made it 5-2.
“They brought me in to help offensively and on the power play. That’s what I want to try to do and try to help the team,” Ryder said. “I’m feeling a lot more comfortable on the ice now.”
The Canadiens scored a pair of goals late in the second period to stretch their lead to 4-0. Subban took a shot from above the right circle that Markstrom blocked, but Gionta grabbed the rebound and poked the puck in. A little over two minutes later, Bouillon’s shot from the slot beat Markstrom.
Kopecky’s goal had made it 4-1 and was the result of a mistake by Bouillon. Kopecky took a shot from the blue line, and the puck ended up near Bouillon’s stick in front.
Bouillon tried to clear the puck, but instead he swept it over Budaj and into the net.
“Obviously, we can laugh about it now. We won the game,” Budaj said. “Those things happen.”
Matthias’ wrist shot from the left circle beat Budaj to make it 4-2. Matthias has scored four goals in six games, but the disappointment of losing overwhelms anything positive from that.
“I’m sick of losing, sick of being down, it’s wearing on you, we need to change things,” Matthias said. “5-2 is not acceptable, especially when a team is at the end of their road trip.”
A large contingent of Montreal fans cheered loudly throughout the game.
“We didn’t really give our fans too much to cheer about tonight, and they did for theirs, so what can you say?” Matthias said.
Early-game troubles continued for Markstrom, who has given up quick goals in his last two starts. Desharnais’ wrist shot from the left circle got past Markstrom’s outstretched glove 1:46 in to make it 1-0.
The Canadiens went ahead 2-0 on Ryder’s first power-play goal. Subban took a shot from the point, and Ryder redirected it into the net.
NOTES: Canadiens forward Brandon Prust will be sidelined for 10 days because of a separated left shoulder sustained Saturday in a 4-3 win at Tampa Bay. ... Ryder’s goal was his 100th with the Canadiens. ... Panthers D Ed Jovanovski, who has played in only five games this season due to a lower body injury, practiced on Saturday but there is no timetable for his return.